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Scientists create molecule of love with less complications

Scientists create molecule of love with less complications

A model of the oxytocin molecule.

A new and improved version of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin has been developed by researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ), with funding support from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

The team from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience has created a synthetic form of the hormone which is less likely to have side effects.

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, Dr Markus Muttenthaler, said the hormone regulated labour and fundamental social behaviours such as maternal care, partnership bonding, social interactions and stress and anxiety responses.

“The downside to oxytocin is that it activates a number of receptors, some of which can lead to unwanted side effects,” Dr Muttenthaler said.

“For example, oxytocin is used to progress labour but it can have serious side effects such as cardiovascular problems or uterine rupture when used for too long or at a too-high dose.

“The new compound we have developed is just as potent as oxytocin, but shows improved selectivity for the oxytocin receptor, potentially reducing dangerous side effects."

Researchers see the improved version of oxytocin as a promising lead for future treatments, and it is also leading to a better understanding the role of the oxytocin receptor in health and disease.

The research has been published in the international scientific journal Science Signaling. 

Media Issued by The University of Queensland.

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